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Seduced and Abandoned

The full, gossipy story of how Rupert Murdoch met Wendi Deng, and how their 14-year marriage fell apart amid rumors of affairs:

The passionate note surfaced amid the flotsam of a shipwrecked marriage. It was written in broken English by a woman to herself, pouring out her love for a man called Tony. “Oh, shit, oh, shit,” she wrote. “Whatever why I’m so so missing Tony. Because he is so so charming and his clothes are so good. He has such good body and he has really really good legs Butt … And he is slim tall and good skin. Pierce blue eyes which I love. Love his eyes. Also I love his power on the stage … and what else and what else and what else … ”

The woman was Wendi Deng Murdoch, the Chinese wife of the Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch. The note, not revealed until now, could have been one of the few pieces of evidence in their surprise divorce last year, had the case come to trial. “Tony” was the former prime minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair.

AUTHOR:Mark Seal
PUBLISHED: Feb. 19, 2014
LENGTH: 45 minutes (11473 words)

To Steal a Mockingbird?

According to a lawsuit, Harper Lee's agent Samuel Pinkus duped the To Kill a Mockingbird author to assign him the copyright to her only book. An investigation into Lee's fight to regain the book's copyright, which continues to earn millions of dollars in royalties:

"His first move was to obtain the copyright to To Kill a Mockingbird, which he did on May 5, 2007, 'as part of a scheme to secure to himself an irrevocable interest in the income stream from Harper Lee’s copyright and to avoid his legal obligations to M&O under the arbitration decision,' Lee’s lawsuit contends. 'Pinkus knew that Harper Lee was an elderly woman with physical infirmities that made it difficult for her to read and see. He also knew that Harper Lee and her sister (and lawyer) relied on and trusted him. Pinkus abused that trust and took advantage of Harper Lee’s physical condition and years of trust built at M&O to engineer the assignment of her copyright in a document that did not even ensure her a contractual right to income.'

"Once Lee signed over her copyright to Pinkus, whether with or without her knowledge, he had the authority to do with her book whatever he pleased. 'Once the copyright is assigned, you stop being an agent and become the principal,' Eric Brown, a publishing-law attorney, told me. 'This applies to all media. As the owner of the copyright in the book, you can make whatever deals you want. You are now Harper Lee.'"
AUTHOR:Mark Seal
PUBLISHED: July 22, 2013
LENGTH: 32 minutes (8114 words)

Cinema Tarantino: The Making of Pulp Fiction

How Quentin Tarantino created the film that launched his career and redefined movies in the 1990s:

"Just seven years earlier, in 1986, Tarantino was a 23-year-old part-time actor and high-school dropout, broke, without an apartment of his own, showering rarely. With no agent, he sent out scripts that never got past low-level readers. 'Too vile, too vulgar, too violent' was the usual reaction, he later said. According to Quentin Tarantino, by Wensley Clarkson, his constant use of the f-word in his script True Romance caused one studio rep to write to Cathryn Jaymes, his early manager:

"Dear Fucking Cathryn,

"How dare you send me this fucking piece of shit. You must be out of your fucking mind. You want to know how I feel about it? Here’s your fucking piece of shit back. Fuck you."
AUTHOR:Mark Seal
PUBLISHED: Feb. 13, 2013
LENGTH: 35 minutes (8936 words)

The Devils in the Diva

Whitney Houston was destined to become as revered as her godmother, Aretha Franklin, before drugs and a toxic marriage caused her to hit rock bottom. A look at the pop icon's rise and fall, and her final days, when it looked like Houston was going to make a comeback:

"[Clive Davis] enlisted Diane Warren to create songs for a new album. Warren tells me that she put herself in Houston’s mind when she wrote a song about struggle and rebirth, entitled 'I Didn’t Know My Own Strength.' As soon as Whitney heard the lyrics—'I thought I’d never make it through, I had no hope to hold on to I was not meant to break'—she told Warren that she’d written her life.

"But Warren and David Foster weren’t sure that Whitney had the vocal strength to sing it. In the end, she not only sang it, says Warren, 'she sang the shit out of it.' According to Gary Catona, 75 percent of Whitney’s vocal strength had returned by the time of her appearance at the American Music Awards in November 2009. When she came onstage in a white gown, singing the Warren song, the crowd leapt to its feet. 'The buzz was: Holy shit!' says Warren. 'It was one of the best performances I’d ever seen. It was: Whitney is back!'"
AUTHOR:Mark Seal
PUBLISHED: May 16, 2012
LENGTH: 36 minutes (9017 words)

The Man Who Played Rockefeller

When he entered the magnificent Gothic church in early 1992, the former Christopher Crowe had a new name and a meticulously researched persona to go with it. "Hello," he greeted his fellow worshippers in his perfectly enunciated East Coast prep-school accent, wearing a blue blazer and private-club necktie, which he would usually accent with khaki pants embroidered with tiny ducks, hounds or bumblebees, worn always with Top-Sider boat shoes, without socks. "Clark," he said, "Clark Rockefeller."
AUTHOR:Mark Seal
PUBLISHED: May 26, 2011
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5592 words)

Big Trouble at 11:35

Even before CBS 48 Hours Mystery producer Joe Halderman allegedly caught David Letterman kissing his girlfriend, Late Show staffer Stephanie Birkitt, the cash-strapped veteran newsman and the multi-millionaire entertainment star were on a collision course.
AUTHOR:Mark Seal
PUBLISHED: April 1, 2010
LENGTH: 23 minutes (5907 words)

The Trouble with Harry’s

With the cosmopolitan magic that had launched his father’s fabled Harry’s Bar in Venice a half-century earlier, restaurateur Arrigo Cipriani swooped in to conquer New York café society in 1985, then left his dashing son, Giuseppe, to build a citywide nightlife empire.
AUTHOR:Mark Seal
PUBLISHED: Dec. 1, 2009
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4485 words)

Lord of the Bling -- Mondo Cavalli

Pioneering animal prints on everything from leather to lamé, then putting Lycra in jeans, Roberto Cavalli made fashion ferociously sexy and fun, both for his celebrity clients (Beyoncé, Bono, the Beckhams, et al.) and for himself.
AUTHOR:Mark Seal
PUBLISHED: Aug. 24, 2009
LENGTH: 19 minutes (4883 words)